Welcome back to the lab!

And Merry Christmas! We’re diving into more folklore this week with the legend of the Christmas Spider! This tale has its origins in Eastern Europe, and tells the story of how we began decorating our trees with tinsel. The legend begins:

Once upon a time, long ago, a gentle mother was busily cleaning the house for the most wonderful day of the year…. Christmas! Not a speck of dust was left. Even the spiders had been banished from their cozy corner in the ceiling to avoid the housewife’s busy cleaning. They finally fled to the farthest corner of the attic.

At last it was Christmas Eve. The tree was decorated beautifully and the family had go to sleep. The poor spiders, banished to the attic, were most unhappy that they could not see the special tree. The oldest and wisest spider looked around a bit and found a tiny crack, just big enough for the spiders to squeeze through.

One by one they crept silently into the room. The tree towered so high they could not see the top. In fact, the spiders’ eyes were so small they could only see one ornament at a time. To get a better look they scurried up the trunk and over every branch. They were filled with happiness as they climbed amongst the glittering beauty. But, oh my! By the time they were through climbing and inspecting, the Christmas tree was covered in their spider webs!

When Santa Claus came with the gifts for the children he saw the tree covered with spider webs. He smiled as he saw how happy the spiders were. But he knew how heartbroken the mother would be if she saw the tree covered with the dusty webs. So he turned the webs to silver and gold.

Hearing the sounds of the family stirring, the tiny creatures deserted the tree and retreated to their attic hideaway. Presently, from down below, came the sounds of delighted children. The tree was shining with the golden garland in the Christmas Day sun! It sparkled and shimmered, and was even more beautiful than before.